Acceptance

Self-acceptance
Acceptance.

It’s a really difficult thing for me.

For most of my life I haven’t felt accepted. Not in my passions, desires, wants, hopes, dreams, independence, or skills. I’m incredibly insecure, and I can’t remember a time that I was not. Which honestly is quite exhausting.

Why would being insecure be exhausting? Because if you’ve ever met an insecure person who isn’t able to hide the way they are feeling, you begin to be exhausted by their lack of confidence. Thus, I’ve been faking confidence since I was little because I never wanted to inconvenience someone because of my feelings. Also, the anxiety of being found out that you’re not really the confident woman you present yourself as is terrifying, and also exhausting…I’ve pretty much been stuffing my feelings deep down inside of me for as long as I can remember. Sure, I’ve been angry (I grew up with 3 brothers, how could I not?) and of course I’ve been sad, frustrated, and heartbroken. However, the deepest level of my emotions I push down—I don’t let people see me be weak. Ever.

When I studied in England the summer of 2014 I was angry with God. An anger that had been brewing for nearly 8 months. When I was expected to participate in conversations regarding the Lord, I knew I would have to fake it, just like I have most of my life. I remember thinking that there was no way I could allow any of the 7 other ministry students know how angry I was with God, because that just wouldn’t be “Christian.” A few days into our trip, one of the other students went off on everyone in the group—he called everyone out on their shit. And I immediately came alongside of him and together we conveyed just how broken and hurt we were, and how angry with God we were. It sparked something in the group—vulnerability.

For the rest of the month I spent in England, I fought what the Lord was trying to do, but ultimately He won. He revealed one word to me. He spoke it over my life. He bore it into my bones because He called me WORTHWHILE.

Of course, when He called me this I had no idea what it meant, so naturally I looked up the definition: Worthwhile – “sufficiently valuable, or important, to be worth one’s time, effort, or interest.”

Honestly, up until that moment, I’m not sure anyone had ever told me I was valuable or important. And I certainly can’t ever remember feeling worth someone’s time, effort, or interest!

All I can remember feeling is that of burdening or embarrassing people.

But of course, because I am insecure, after having a huge realization like that dumped right into my lap, I filed it away because it felt too close to emotions I wasn’t yet ready to deal with. My plan was to forget about it, and come back to it another day…

A few days ago I was texting one of my friends/co-workers to schedule him for an upcoming program. I’ve known this guy for nearly 5 years, so naturally our text turns into sarcastic jibes with one another. When I told my friend “I try” in response to his “perfect” and his retort was “doesn’t look like it!” of course I replied with “OUCH!” Now, to his credit he told me “you make it look effortless” but this is where our sarcastic conversation turned deep.

My friend said this after I responded to him with “nice save”—“just cause you took it wrong does not mean it was originally in need of saving, people only have the ability to compliment or insult you if you believe them.” Of course, I responded with “or I’m just an incredibly insecure person…and sarcasm isn’t interpreted well via text message.” His next text hit the bulls-eye of my heart: “We just need to make sure we don’t make it too easy for people to kick us. Arrogance is no better, but we can not offer ourselves to be hurt just because of minor communication error, we have too much at stake to drive ourselves manic over interpretation.”

He was right, of course. We DO have too much at stake to be driven crazy over our interpretation of what someone meant. Also, I shouldn’t be offering myself as a target all the time because I am insecure…this is when the Lord started reminding me of that word he spoke over me.

“You are worthwhile.” It’s something people from England have been reminding me of since we crossed back over the pond. For nearly a year I’ve been hearing it, I’ve had signs/paintings be made saying exactly that—hell, I even hung them up on my wall and see them every day. However, I’ve been ignoring the truth of that word because I am too insecure to trust people.

My inability to accept myself, for all of my flaws, passions, talents, joys, and desires has been THE reason I have felt stuck in the same rut for nearly a year.

People keep on speaking into my life, they keep on reminding me that I am worthwhile, but I keep on ignoring them because I am afraid. Afraid to put down my guard and let someone close enough to destroy my fragile heart. Because of my trust issues, with both others and myself, I have slowly been withering away.

Today, I saw this tweet from Elora Nicole and truly it hit me hard. In a good way. The caption in the photo says “Be unequivocally you” and if we’re being honest (which I am) I’m not entirely sure how to do that. But Elora writes this about her photo, “This is what I want you to know: you can be you — every square inch and every wild dream. In fact, it’s what we need. We need people who are comfortable telling and living THEIR story and not comparing notes with other people.”

When I read that, I couldn’t take a deep breathe for a full minute because I was so overwhelmed with the truth in that statement. The Lord started whispering to my heart, “Hannah, the world needs you. It needs your story, your passions, your dreams, every single part of you. Stop denying people from experiencing you.”

And that’s when I actually got it. The world needs me, not someone who tries to please everyone else. The world needs me, even if I am a little insecure. The world needs me, exactly as I am, with all my failings, brokenness, and pain because after all that is part of what makes me, me.

Something else, the world needs YOU.

So, together can we try and stop shoving down our emotions and actually allow ourselves to feel? Can we start believing that we are worthwhile because our Father calls us His? Let’s start kicking our insecurities in the ass because we shouldn’t be so damn exhausted from pretending all the time. Today let’s start accepting ourselves. Today let’s be unequivocally us…and tomorrow, and for the rest of our lives!

My “Twenty 15’s” of 2015

It’s a New Year. Which has been said so much in the last 24 hours that it is almost annoying. Regardless, I’m still excited about this New Year. 2015. It’s a fresh start for some, a wake-up call for others, and for some it’s the same old same old.

Personally I’m excited about this New Year. I’m ready for whatever it holds, and all of its unknowns. I’m also excited for all of the things I do know will happen this year. I’m excited about the opportunity to continue learning and improving in my job. I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve made in 2014 that will continue to deepen this upcoming year. Most of all I’m ecstatic that I get to be an aunt in June! Seriously, my brother and sister-in-love will have a tiny human roaming around in a few months—cue squeals of joy!

For everything that I know will happen, and for all the unknowns, I am planning on being intentional this year. That’s why I’ve come up with a list for 2015.

It feels a little silly, but I will be doing “twenty 15’s” this 2015. Some of them are going to be challenging as I’ll get out, while others are going to be a grand adventure. Regardless of how easy or difficult completing everything on my list will be, I’m pumped about the growth that’s bound to happen. I’m anxiously awaiting these 365 days to come along because of how exciting I know this year is going to be.

So, without further ado, here is my list of twenty 15’s I will be striving to accomplish this year:

 

  1. Write 15 handwritten letters and mail them the good old-fashioned way—snail mail!
  2. Read 15 books*
  3. Add 15 people to my Young Living Team
  4. Go on a walk for at least 15 minutes every day (preferably I’ll be more towards the hour mark on this one since it’s one of my favorite things to do)
  5. Try 15 new foods I’ve never eaten before*
  6. Do 15 things that scare me*
  7. Drink NigXia Red every day for 15 weeks
  8. Devote 15 minutes to prayer, meditation, and/or silence daily
  9. Write and post 15 blogs this year (one every month with 3 thrown in randomly)
  10. Learn 15 basic conversations in sign language
  11. Go on at least 15 different hikes
  12. Watch 15 sunrises
  13. Watch 15 sunsets
  14. Visit 15 places I’ve never been before (hello Wisconsin and New Orleans!)*
  15. Completely unplug my life for 15 different days throughout this year (I’m talking live like a freaking cave woman…no phone, no computer, no car, and no electricity-ish)
  16. Devote 15 minutes to writing every day (who knows what I’ll come up with…maybe another book!)
  17. Every Sunday evening I will think back on my week and write down 15 things I saw that reminded me of the goodness human beings posses
  18. Spend 15 days outside of America
  19. Complete a 15-day Daniel fast
  20. Read/study 15 books of the Bible (Job, Philippians, Daniel, Proverbs, Psalms, Malachi, John, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, Genesis, Exodus, Lamentations, Joel, Galatians)

*For numbers 2, 5, 6, and 14 I am still in the thinking process of what the specifics will be. However, here’s what I’ve got so far:

#2- Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, Blonde by Joyce Carol Oats, The Brief Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, Hogfather by Terry Pratchett, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

#5- Laksa, Udon, kimchi, spam, Crème brûlée

#6- Learn to long board, get set up on a blind date, go to a party by myself, hitchhike, go shopping on black Friday, go snowboarding again, scuba dive

#14- Wisconsin, New Orleans, Oneonta Gorge (Oregon), Yellowstone National Park, Chicago, Skagit Valley Tulip Fields (Washington)

 

Please share your suggestions for how I should fill in the 4 lists above!

 

So, what are your plans for this New Year?

I’m going on an adventure!!!!

adventure

 

In 2 weeks I am leaving for Iceland. I will be there for a week, and honestly I do not have much planned. One of my friends and I are going to rent a car and drive around the island in exploration of amazing sights and adventures. Stoked is one of the better words to describe my feels about this trip.

Something else that is exciting about this adventure is the timing of it. Usually during this time of August I would be heading back to college for the fall semester. However, I graduated and this trip is a wonderful reminder that I am choosing the path for the remainder of my life. While I am venturing down my chosen career path, with a company I am beyond excited to work for, this trip is refreshing to my soul because it reminds me that I still have choices.

Through all four years of university I was told what to read, what to study, and how I should be living my life. Of course I had my own personal spin on things, but overall there was a level of “it must be done this way or else you will receive a poor grade” which sucked. Now that I have graduated, and have started pursuing my future career path, I have been enjoying my evenings. I have read many books that I actually wanted to read. I have chosen my work schedule, who I wanted to hang out with, and now I am choosing to go on an adventure during the same time I would normally be feeling forced into going back to school.

Basically I am pumped about the opportunities growing up is already presenting. I hear multiple times a weekend, on the canopy tours, that I should revel in my job now—while I am young, because once I get into my career and start a family it all goes away, or at least put on the back burner. When I hear people tell me this, I smile politely but I also recognize that adventures and fun only have to go onto a backburner if I let it. While growing older presents some added challenges, there are still adventures to go on and ways to have a blast. And a family? Well, let’s just take one adventure at a time—how’s that sound? ;)

I guess what I am trying to convey through this post is my excitement for the upcoming changes in my life. While I am pursuing a career, I am encouraged by my ability to also journey through life and travel around to new places and see different cultures. There was a point this summer that I was terrified I would never be able to travel and explore, meeting different people and learning from them, but then I realized that I don’t have to be controlled and told what to do because I am my own person. I can make choices for the way my life is lived and often they are good ones. As long as I am diligent in communicating with people, and keep my priorities straight, making choices for my life should never be a bad thing.

So, my advice to you is to adventure on dear ones! Enjoy life, breathe and smile.

OneWord365

“So, everything in your life is you holding a fist to people instead of an open hand. You’re holding tightly to everything in your life because you need the control rather than allowing yourself to be open to other people and let them have a deep impact on your life.”

The words my counselor (T) said to me at the beginning of November.

The words that have haunted me since he first spoke them that Tuesday morning.

When he said those words with that picture image I got it. I realized that I have been gripping my hands together so tightly that I have forced people away from me. I have forced myself into a tightly squeezed fist and molded myself into a closed-off person. A woman so hell-bent on achieving control in her life that she literally doesn’t know how to open her hand anymore and receive.

So when T pointed this out to me I knew that I was missing out on a world of growth because I don’t let people in to my life. We began working through this and I grew quite a bit. I realized that I have been silencing myself and that I am done with that. I have also learned that I need people in my life. I got a taste of that when I was in England this summer but I have ignored what I learned overseas. But I’m through with that now.

My word this year is open because I have been living most of my life closed off from everyone and everything. I have been shielding myself from everything—good or bad—and I’m realizing that is not a good way to live.

So regardless of how terrified I am about where focusing on being open this year will take me, I will do it because I know it is for my good.

So for starters here are a few things I haven’t been open with lately:

-To say that I am struggling to believe God is good and who he says he is does not cover it. There are days that I feel like I am drowning because I just don’t know that he is there. And then there are other days when people in my life remind me of who he is and I try and believe but I’m not sure if I ever get there. It’s been a rough year and I haven’t told very many people about it and the entire time I haven’t felt God’s presence or heard his direction except for a handful of moments—moments that were necessary and good but so far in between that it’s hard to believe that he really does care about me.

-I pour myself into work, school, crafting, ANYTHING so that I don’t have to deal with emotions. Literally. I don’t want to deal with any emotions that I experience so I throw myself into other things so that I distract myself and eventually I stop knowing how to feel. Which is never a good thing. I also avoid other people when I am doing this because like it or not people have emotions and I don’t like emotions so I avoid people. (Again, I close everyone out in order to exact control over my life…)

-I have zero desire to go to a physical church ever again. Being a female I was told blatantly by numerous people that my role was to be with the children in the nursery and that since I volunteered in the youth group I could never speak in front of the students unless it was a gender specific event. I felt worthless and belittled and I have a bitter taste in my mouth to associate with people who truly believe that about women in the church. Also, I know that I have things to say and that while I don’t want to be a preacher at a church I wouldn’t mind speaking to people (even though the thought of that terrifies me). However, any time I opened up my mouth to express my thoughts or to challenge an idea I felt judgment. And yes, I know that not all churches are the same but when you have been wounded deeper than deep, in a way that you never should have, you wouldn’t want to step foot in a church again either.

There’s more, but if we’re being honest (which I am) opening up about those three things exhausted me. I know this year is going to be one of growth and a lot of a lot of healing. So, here’s to focusing on one word this year. Here’s to learning how to open myself and surrender rather than close myself and control. Here’s to experiencing change. I don’t know what this year will bring but I do know that discovering how to open myself will be painful, difficult, and a challenge. But I also know that it will be worth it. How I know that I’m not exactly sure, but I do. And in the little bit of faith that I have I am standing on the surety that God will use this for His glory and for me to discover who He is because if I’m going to learn to be open then I’m going to encounter things. And encountering our Creator will most likely be on the top of the list. Just a guess (or maybe it’s a hope).

-Hannah

So what about you? Are you living by the OneWord365 challenge?